Blue Suns, Yellow Skies
At six, my sister claimed she remembered birth,
that moment the scalpel sliced across our mother’s abdomen
and pried open the flesh to expose
her miniature body held inside.
The first thing you know
is how cold the world feels,
she said, nestled inside a sleeping bag
covered with blankets, gripping
her stuffed lion,
You either have to find that warmth again
or try to forget it.
Maybe that’s why she curled into
her first boyfriend’s body
at fifteen, a question mark in darkness,
until she felt an oppressive heat,
kicked the covers off both their bodies,
and told him she needed to get out,
though when he threatened
to leave permanently, she only said, But I need,
I need, through tears.
Or perhaps it explains how her rage
started to match our mother’s
as they rolled on the kitchen floor,
clenching hair, slamming each other’s heads
against the wooden cupboards,
my sister crying out,
bitch, fuck-up, I hate you—
words my mother had slung
at her as long as she could remember—
red faced, scrunched and screaming
as each blow drove them farther from
that first trapped dependency.
I pick up one of the books she wrote
when she claimed her keen memory—
misspelled words scrawled in crayon
beneath suns colored blue and skies colored yellow,
and even the book itself, inverted,
so you had to turn it backwards to begin,
as if my sister always knew
that to understand anything,
you must distort your normal perceptions,
start at the end,
and painstakingly search for the beginning.
The Side Of The Road
A deer, writhing
by the side of the road,
neck arched up and twisting,
as if pinned by some invisible hand—
we stumble upon it
dumbfounded as we confront
its mashed organs,
a red juiced glaze
on the concrete.
The fur’s matted with blood,
torn apart like cloth ripped
open by a pair of urgent hands.
(Do all things have this dormant
force beneath surfaces,
waiting to explode?)
hard to sustain even a glance,
which is why we look away,
avoid what’s inevitable,
though we can’t now,
The deer lifts
its head, mouth agape.
I didn’t expect silence,
thought it would scream
a cry akin to human grief.
What do we do?
You shrug. What is there to do
but leave it here to die?
I put my head on your shoulder.
(How many times have I sought
solace there?) I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I cry.
How can you turn away?
It’s not the deer anymore, is it?
Just look into the terror-stare of those
black eyes, the trembling
torso, immobile legs collapsed
like a puppet tossed aside—there will never
be a time when love is easy for us again.
I put my hand in yours, Please, Do I need to say it?
Do you need anymore proof
that we’re past the point of miracles?
There will be no resurrection today.
Please… You flinch, jerk
your hand from mine,
You can’t ask me to do that.
Perhaps you’re imagining
the grace of the deer in the woods
before all this, its body springing
from the slightest sound, its sprint
through the brush, leaves trampled
like petals scattered at a wedding march.
Perhaps you need to hold that image a moment
before you can reconcile
what must be done. But there’s no time,
we can’t let it linger. If you’ll just
hand me the gun, then I’ll do it.
I’ll shoot it for both of us.